I don’t remember much about preschool other than a large room full of loud kids who were nearly impossible to control. I remember little boys and girls pinching each other and laughing hysterically. The teacher always seemed entirely overwhelmed by what was going on in the classroom. I have a feeling that I was something of a terror although I loved any type of art project. As a young child I was always looking for any sort of activity that would allow me some control. Most decisions are made for children by someone other than themselves; parents, neighbors, relatives, and friends do all the thinking for preschoolers. Although they are unable to do most things this doesn’t mean that preschoolers don’t want some control. One area where you can give it to them is in creative projects.
Most preschoolers do not know how to draw but they can learn to color. If given an outline of a favorite animal or dinosaur most preschoolers will really get creative. They can color the animal or creature in whatever way they please. This allows them the control that they desire and a creative outlet. Over the years I have found some great coloring activities for preschoolers, and here are a few of my favorites:
1. Coloring animals. Most children disagree with each other about their likes and dislikes, but all children love animals. Provide preschoolers with coloring book pages for their favorite animals. If you try to force children to color animals that they don’t like they won’t stay interested for long. Allow them to color whatever animals they like in whatever color they desire.
2. Coloring superheros. Almost all preschoolers are familiar with the most popular superheros and their costumes. Because children know about superheros and have seen superhero movies they will want to help bring their favorite characters to life by coloring them.
3. Custom gift cards. On special occasions or holidays have the children make gift cards for each other. Although the kids might not understand the significance of the occasion they will probably understand that there is something very nice about giving a personalized gift. Have the children design gift cards and color them in bright, welcoming colors.
4. Draw a large image across several sheets of paper and allow each child to color a page. When the children are finished you can collect all the papers and reassemble the image. The finished product will be a wacky and fun collection of images.
5. Give the children colored paper so that they can experiment with different color combinations. You can use coloring as a great teaching opportunity. Anytime a child asks for a new coloring pencil make sure that they can identify its color. When a child is coloring a particular animal make them tell you some facts about the animal. Use the time to teach something interesting about the object being colored.
6. Hold a coloring competition. Although winners and losers might be subjective in these sorts of competitions you can award a prize to the child who can color inside the lines or who does the most coloring. This will push the children to focus and will teach them the value of hard work.
There are only a few activities that can actually hold the attention of preschoolers and coloring is one of the best. Be creative and try your own coloring activities with preschoolers. You would be surprised to find just how easy it is to come up with great activities. Good luck with those preschoolers!